When an interviewer asks an open ended question like this, it can be difficult to know where to begin...and end! This question haunts many individuals who may accidentally go a little too in depth into their personal lives. It happens. Keep your reply light, and work relevant. Share how you became interested in this career path and what you enjoy about it. This is a great opportunity to describe yourself by discussing the strengths and qualities that you bring.
"I am a competitive individual who is driven and likes to win. In addition to my successful career in behavioral therapy, I also spend time playing competitive sports. I give back by volunteering at the local animal shelter and working for a variety of annual fundraisers in our community."
"I am a very active individual who loves to workout and go to the mountains on the weekend. I feel that my level of activity on my off time greatly improves my concentration during the week. I have a high amount of energy to offer my patients."
"With pleasure! I am a calm and confident behavioral therapist, with excellent written and verbal communication skills. Even though I am quiet, I can motivate my team and keep morale high. The majority of my work has been spent supporting Autistic adults and educating their family members and caregivers. I look forward to working with an agency that holds a focus on rehabilitating children."
One of the great things about being an ABA Therapist is being able to experience fresh challenges every day. If you are one that thrives on challenges and new experiences then, traveling will be right up your alley. ABA Therapists devote their time within the schools, centers, and patients' homes. Discuss with the interviewer your willingness to travel. Your answer can be short and sweet. There is no need to visit your entire schedule at this point in the interview.
"Yes, I am able to travel and work in various locations across our city. Do you have particular locations in mind?"
"I am very open to travel and can make myself available for overnight and out of state travel as well."
"I am able to travel to locations to see patients. I'm aware that there are 6 local schools in the area, does this position support these schools?"
The interviewer would like to know if you have long term career plans in behavioral therapy. They will be able to gauge your commitment level based on your answer to this question. Perhaps you are looking to earn an additional certification, grow your leadership skills, or open your own practice. If you are not sure where you want your career to be, tell the interviewer what type of work you want to be a part of.
"In five years I'd like to have received my Autism Certificate and utilize it as an ABA therapist supporting one of our local school programs."
"5 years from now, I would like to be supervising or managing a team of my own. I am confident that I will progress at a rate that will make this a possibility."
"In 5 years I would like to be seen as an authority in the behavioral therapy industry, with one of my papers being published. I would like to be well-connected and trusted when it comes to my work here."
When you answer this question be sure to remain positive, even if the experience wasn't. Avoid talking about any previous drama and do not speak poorly of your colleagues. If you had a good relationship with your previous colleagues: "I get along well with most personalities. My colleagues were great team players and we would often meet up after work for drinks or team activities." If you did not have a good relationship with your previous colleagues: "I have had better relationships in the past but we did the best that we could. Our communication styles were all very different which made it challenging at times."
"I get along well with most personalities. My colleagues were great team players and we would often meet up after work for drinks or team activities."
"I get along with just about everyone that I work with. I respect other people's knowledge, experience, and opinion, even if I don't agree. I think that is why I am able to work with most anyone."
"My working relationships are very important to me. I've spent 12 years as an ABA Therapist and enjoy mentoring my fellow therapists. Even as people move on to new jobs, I like to stay in touch with them and keep up to date on their exciting career progress."
Are you accustomed to working with a very large or diverse team of individuals? Assure the interviewer that you are able to handle an environment that offers diversity.
"I have worked with diverse groups of people most of my career, including my time in University. I am most comfortable, and happy, in this type of environment because it offers a great learning opportunity."
"In my current role, I work alongside cross functional teams regularly. There has been a lot of diversity during my time in University, and my practicum as well. I fully embrace diversity."
"I would say that pretty much every organization and facility I have worked for has valued diversity. Working with people from all walks of life help shed different perspectives and identify potential problems faster."
ABA Therapy can be an emotionally draining job. How do you get away from it all and relax? Perhaps you practice yoga, go to the gym, have a steam room, or go to the beach on the weekends. Avoid saying that you don't have any work related stress because, we all do, to varying degrees. Instead, tell the interviewer that you welcome and thrive on a little bit of work stress. Work stress can motivate us and make our day more interesting.
"I handle stress very well and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure to not get distracted. Staying on deadline with my treatment plans is very helpful and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."
"Stress is part of any demanding job and I will embrace it to the fullest. I take good care of myself personally and have learned how to prioritize my workload to maintain a healthy balance in my stress levels."
"Daily yoga helps me deal with work stress. In my current position, I've started a small yoga group during the lunch hour for 20 minutes. There are 11 of us from the medical center that all participate."
Often, our work environment holds the possibility for awkward or tense situations. It can be difficult to know how to respond when you have a coworker who is moody, or when your coworker lacks social skills and constantly asks inappropriate questions. The interviewer wants to know that you can keep your cool in situations like these.
"I have had my share of awkward situations, and having raised 2 kids, I am no stranger to them! In the workplace, if an uncomfortable situation arises I tend to face the issue head on, but in a tactful way. Sweeping things under the rug rarely helps. I have no problem being open with my team or colleagues if I am not feeling comfortable in a particular situation."
"I try to avoid conflict, but I have a high tolerance for discomfort. I've learned to try to let the people in question sort it out, but have no problem rolling up my sleeves and diving in to help mediate the problem."
"I have learned over the years that if something makes me uncomfortable, I better dive right in. Change and growth happen outside of your comfort zone. I embrace this!"
The compensation question can be very difficult to answer. It's always best to start with what you are currently earning and then discuss what your future compensation goals look like. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise.
"Currently, I earn a base salary of $45,000 per year and I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."
"After researching the area, the salary range looks to be between $50k and $60k per year. As a new ABA Therapist, I'm hoping to start around $50k."
"My current salary is $60K/year plus benefits, compensation for any travel, and 4 weeks' vacation time. I am looking for a competitive package, in my next position."
In this situation, the famous 'what is a weakness' question has been re-worded. The interviewer wants to know what skills you have and which ones you are working to improve upon.
"Public speaking has always been a weakness of mine. I've asked my current supervisor to keep me in mind whenever there is an opportunity to address a group of people so I can work on making this one of my strengths."
"My handwriting is horrible. When it comes times to transcribe my notes from a session, sometimes I find it difficult to read. Reminding myself that it isn't a race, and that it will be easier if I take a few extra minutes to take notes, has helped me to improve."
"I am a big fan of continued education. If I could improve on any particular skill, I would return to take a couple of workshops on new therapies and breakthrough methods."
Now is your time to get answers to your questions that have come up based on your grueling interview. Steer clear of salary, benefit and other questions that might make you sound pushy or that you are trying to negotiate the terms of a job that hasn't been offered to you yet. Take this time to clarify questions of what hours you will be working, what type of patients they see most of and why the interviewer enjoys working for this hospital or facility.
"Thank you for asking - I do have a few questions. What is top of mind when it comes to filling this role? In addition, what types of career growth opportunities would follow this position? And lastly, do you have internal candidates who are also interviewing for this position?"
"Here are some sample questions: - When would you like to have this position filled? - How long has this role been vacant? - Is this a replacement search or a newly created role? - What is your favorite part about working here? - What is the facility's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months? - Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you? - What do you see as the biggest change in this industry over the past 3 years? - Is there any reason why you would not hire me? "
"I have seen over the years that turnover in behavioral therapy can be high. Could you tell me why this position is vacant?"
As an ABA Therapist, you know that the four basic schedules of reinforcement refer to the frequency with which a patient receives reinforcement (or a reward) for performing the desired behavior. You can go ahead and answer this question in textbook fashion but have an example handy just in case the interviewer wants you to go into your answer just a bit more.
"The four basic schedules of reinforcement are Fixed-Ratio Schedule, Fixed Interval Schedule, Variable-Ratio schedule and Variable-Interval schedule. I like to use a fixed ratio schedule when working with my patients. Last week I rewarded a patient with a sticker every 3 times they tied their shoes correctly."
"From my understanding, the four basic schedules of reinforcement are Fixed-Ratio Schedule, Fixed Interval Schedule, Variable-Ratio schedule and Variable-Interval schedule. I plan to try using all 4 methods with most patients. I am sure that once I become more experienced, I will learn which methods work best for which patients."
"Great question! The four basic schedules of reinforcement are Fixed-Ratio Schedule, Fixed Interval Schedule, Variable-Ratio schedule and Variable-Interval schedule. I have used all 4 methods with a variety of patients throughout my career; however, I tend to use Fixed-Ratio Schedule most often."
Having a parent that isn't on the same page as you, when it comes to therapy methods, can be detrimental to treating your patient. Talk about a time that you've sat down with the parents of a patient to teach them at-home techniques. Let the interviewer know that you were able to handle the situation by acknowledging that they were frustrated and that you could help with the communication gap by teaching them a few tools of their own.
"Last week a team of medical professionals and I delivered a tough diagnosis to a first-time parent. We provided clear, concise and correct information and provided our support as well as local resources to support the family."
"If I were to have difficulty with a parent, I would sit them down and discuss why they were feeling the way they were. It can be difficult to react properly, all the time, when your kids are suffering from a disorder. I would empathize with them as much as possible and assure the parents that their children were in good hands."
"Through my career as an ABA Therapist, I have encountered difficult parents on a regular basis. It's a very tough situation for them to be in, and I empathize fully. In order to soothe the situation, I ask them to keep a transparent line of communication with me on how they are feeling about their child's treatment and progress. This diffuses most situations where a parent may let their feelings fester."
Telling the interviewer that you support your community through volunteering will help you get to the top of their list. Not only do you gain more experience and insights but you are giving back and helping others. By choosing volunteer work within the social services career field, you have the potential to build future professional relationships and create connections with people.
"I've had the opportunity to volunteer with Big Brother and Big Sisters for the last six months. I've not only learned more about myself but how to help my future patients."
"Each year I volunteer at our local shelter to pass out meals to adults and children during the holidays. Being part of the community is very important to me."
"For many years now I have made an effort to donate therapy hours to a local cause or family in need. So far, I have conducted over 5000 hours of pro bono work to children in need of behavioral therapy."
You want to talk about your contribution as a member of an autism treatment team, as a case manager or time spent leading groups of children and parents. If you are right out of school and haven't had a lot of experience working with children with autism, talk about your internship or any volunteer work.
"I've worked with children on the autism spectrum now for two years. I've worked in one on one settings, in a group setting, as well as with private caregivers and family members of autistic children. Overall, my experience spans the last six years."
"I haven't had the opportunity to work with children on the autism spectrum as I've been working primarily with physically disabled adults for the last three years. I look forward to the opportunity to work with a new group of individuals and to learn from them."
"I have worked specifically with autism and other related brain disorders for the past eight years. Six of those years have been geared strictly to child-related therapy. I consider myself an expert in the field and have every confidence that I will deliver the experience that you need, for a role such as this one."
The interviewer would like to fully understand what certifications you currently hold, and where you would want to go with your continued education. Discuss your current training and show that you are always motivated to expand your credentials.
"I have been a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) for the past five years. I love the idea of continued education and have been considering completing my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology so that I can be a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)."
"I just earned my Autism Certificate last month. I'm looking forward to securing employment and working towards my Certified Autism Specialist certificate."
"Upon completion of my Bachelors Degree in Psychology, I passed my exams to become an assistant ABA therapist. I would like to eventually earn my master's degree in behavior analysis, and become a certified ABA Therapist."
Let the interviewer know how you would evaluate the concern, make a plan to overcome the behavior, and track your patient's success. Assure the interviewer that you would work with parents, medical providers and school staff to adequately monitor and help assist a behaviorally aggressive child.
"I noticed a child at school being unusually aggressive in the classroom and knew that I needed to find out what was going on. I contacted the parents for permission to invite the child to a working group that I had for kids of his age. He's been there for six weeks now and has responded to our group therapy and is improving every day."
"I do not yet have the level of experience for me to perform an intervention on my own personally; however, I have observed some amazing techniques during my schooling and training which includes group therapy, play therapy, and music therapy."
"My preferred intervention method is Relationship Development Intervention because parents and teachers can be trained to perform it with children in the home or school setting. I think it is important to get everyone that interacts with the child and is involved in their care, to help improve their aggressive behavior."
There will always be that one case that makes you scratch your head, and it will challenge what you thought you knew as an ABA Therapist. Let the interviewer know you are up for the challenge! Discuss a specific situation without breaking any confidentiality barriers.
"I recall one specific situation where my patient continued covering her ears and screaming as though she were in pain. This didn't happen all of the time which made me believe that the behavior was related to sound sensitivity, but not entirely responsible for it. I used a variety of tools to break down what was happening and found that she was, in fact, very sensitive to particular pitches and not others. There have been times that I've left a session scratching my head, and that was one of them. I regularly consult with my fellow coworkers on situations where I need a second opinion. Sessions that leave me thinking are the best ones because they push me to dig deeper for answers."
"While completing my practicum hours, I came across a lot of patient behavior that I was not familiar with through my classroom education, alone. These situations were often surrounding eating and behaviors around food. I observed the ABA Therapists' methods and made notes after each session so that I could prepare if I were to come across similar behavior in my career."
"One of the great things about being an ABA Therapist is the various ways we can work with a patient. One circumstance that stands out to me is when I had a patient with major mood instability issues. It was the most severe case I had ever seen, and it taught me that there is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to treating patients. Sometimes it might take a little longer than expected to determine why a patient acts the way they do."
Strength and weakness questions are the most challenging interview questions for anyone, so do not fret! Choose a weakness that can be improved upon but is not vital to your success as an ABA Therapist. Let the interviewer know you've identified this weakness and that you are working on improving this shortcoming.
"My greatest weakness is that I am an introverted person by nature. The result is that I have a difficult time speaking up in large groups. I'm most comfortable working one on one, or in smaller groups, with my patients."
"At this point in my career, I would say that my greatest weakness lies in my lack of experience. I have completed my practicum hours and know that I am ready; however, it will take good career tenure to truly show that I have what it takes to make an impact as an ABA Therapist."
"Each year that I am an ABA Therapist, I see new areas where I can improve. To make this happen, I commit to taking additional courses and workshops related to this career path. The continued development coursework that I have taken include new methods of screening and assessment, further development of autism spectrum disorders, and abnormal psychology."
This question can be difficult to answer if you aren't comfortable and confident in bragging about yourself, just a little bit. The interview is the time and the place to show them what you're all about and why they want to hire you. Try making a list of your skills if you are having a hard time determining what strength you should highlight. Be sure to include your knowledge-based skills, transferable skills, and your traits.
"My greatest strength would be my patience. I can keep my cool in any situation and am capable of finding a release from a stressful situation, after the fact. I can remain collected, and professional, at all times."
"Some great strengths to mention are: - Communicative - Collaborative - Flexible in Schedule/Availability - Persistent and Determined - Eager for Knowledge/New Skills - Compassionate - Empathetic"
"My greatest strength is in my ability to sense the needs of others. I'm able to tailor my interaction based on the need of each child, coworker or fellow professional. I have taught many new therapists on non-verbal and verbal cues of patients, and am currently writing a paper on these methods."
You should answer this question short and sweet. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is a U.S. based legislation related to data privacy and security of medical information. Let the interviewer know that you follow HIPAA guidelines every day, with every one of your patients. You'll also highlight throughout your interview that you are aware of HIPAA guidelines by not using patient's personal information in your interview answers.
"HIPAA is legislation that protects patients' personal health information. I always take all necessary precautions to protect patient information, as well as details surrounding their treatment."
"I recently took a module on HIPAA while obtaining my behavioral analyst certification. Patient confidentiality is of utmost importance, and HIPAA is the primary legislation that enforces these confidentiality requirements."
"In short, HIPAA safeguards the medical information of my patients. Utilizing HIPAA ensures the protection of my patients' information when transferred, received, or handled by other involved therapists."
This question is a great way to tell the interviewer a bit more about how you interact with your patients. Think of a recent time that you showed a client that you truly cared. Did you show compassion during a role play exercise? Did you praise a child for learning a new skill? No matter how big or small, discuss the ways that you demonstrate care for your patients.
"For the last two weeks, I have been working on self-help tasks with a patient of mine. Yesterday she mastered brushing her teeth on her own. This accomplishment was a huge and I let her know that I was so proud of her by cheering, and celebrating the achievement."
"Here are some ways that you can show care for your patients: - Respect their time and be punctual for their appointment - Show empathy for their situation, at every opportunity - Be patient with their progress - Celebrate the small successes - Listen to their needs and the needs of their full-time caregivers - Show up to each session with a positive attitude - Check in on their progress between sessions"
"I rely heavily on the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) when working with new autism patients. I've found that it is a simple way to start communication with my patients and a realistic way for parents to continue therapy at home. I always want to utilize therapy methods that can be supported easily in the home. My patients need support in ways that do not present unnecessary roadblocks."
You may be asked this question if you are new to the career field, just finished up your post-secondary education or if your resume reflects that you mainly led group sessions. If you do not have a lot of experience working one-on-one with clients, that is okay. Let the interviewer know that you have had the training and you're ready to get started! If you do have experience working one-on-one with patients, discuss with the interviewer what type of settings they were in. Let the interviewer know that you can work within any patient setting.
"As a new ABA Therapist, I've had four years experience working with clients on a one-on-one basis. One year as an assistant, and the last three years as a therapist in a school setting."
"As a new graduate, I've only worked one on one with patients during my clinical rotation. I look forward to building my caseload in this position."
"Yes, I have approximately five years' experience working in one-on-one sessions and am very comfortable in this single environment. From what I understand, the majority of what you do at (organization's name) is one on one. Is this correct?"
As an ABA Therapist, you know that following a behavior intervention plan can help eliminate or reduce difficult behaviors. You will be a part of a team of medical providers and education specialists who come up with a plan to reduce frustration and risk for all family members. You'll implement a plan to help them communicate their wants and needs in more appropriate ways. Talk to the interviewer about the extent of your experience.
"Although I have not personally created a behavior intervention plan from scratch, I do fully understand the components that go into the creation of a successful plan. These include the individuals personal information, a description of their behaviors, suggested replacement behaviors, a plan for the elimination of triggers, teaching strategies, a list of positive and negative consequences, and a time frame for the plan."
"While completing my Behavioral Analyst education, I created a sample behavior intervention plan for my final project. I brought it with me for you to review, if you have time."
"For the past 3 years I have led the creation of intervention plans for children with autism, between the ages of 8-12. I do consider myself an expert in the subject. In preparation for the interview today, I have brought with me a sample plan. Would you like to review this document?"
As an ABA Therapist, you've likely seen patients with food related behavioral issues. Have you used a reward system to convince your pickiest of eaters to try new foods? Perhaps the kitchen staff at the school is on board with recognizing change, and providing praise as well. After attending therapy sessions with you, have your patients started to cut their own food, properly use utensils, wait quietly at restaurants, or wipe their own mouth without being asked? These are examples of success stories you can share with your interviewer.
"Confusion and distaste towards textures and temperatures can be difficult for some of my patients to overcome. I've used Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy to help my patients overcome some of their behaviors related to food and nourishment."
"I have learned a little bit about feeding therapy techniques during my time in University. The techniques I learned included teaching a child with autism to use utensils, and providing them with strong posture support during meal time. More severe cases may required help with motor functions such as getting the food from their plate, to their mouth. Also, reinforcing with food itself may be a reward if there is a food the patient especially appreciates."
"When working with patients that suffer from a food related aversion, I make a point to educate the family on the importance of reinforcement and how to use my therapy methods successfully. This past month I've been working with a family and teaching the importance of ignoring the negative behaviors and reinforcing the small, positive wins."
The interviewer would like to be assured that you are comfortable and knowledgeable enough to work on your own. Are you able to work without supervision, prioritize your to-do list, complete paperwork and go home knowing nothing was left undone? If you can answer yes to these questions then you know you can successfully work independently.
"My work experience for the past 2 years has been in a clinical setting with multiple medical professionals treating the same patients. I haven't had the opportunity to work independently too often but I welcome the challenge."
"Since I am new to my career as an ABA Therapist, the best example that I can provide with independent work is during my post-secondary career. While attending university I had many independent projects with tight deadlines. The biggest challenge with working independently lies in self-motivation. I do believe that I have a strong amount of drive. With this drive, I am confident in my ability to be an effective therapist in both a one-on-one, or group setting."
"I have worked independently for the majority of my 12 year career in behavioral therapy. I have also taught new ABA Therapists on single therapy techniques. It's where I am most comfortable."
As an ABA Therapist, what makes you want to go to work each day? Perhaps it is the team that you are a part of or, the excitement of a new case every day. Relay to the interviewer what you like best about your current role. Even if you need to dig deep, you should come up with something positive about your current position.
"In my current position, I work with a team of very talented therapists. I look forward to meeting the team here and building exciting new working relationships."
"The thing that I enjoy most about my current position is that I learn something new every day; whether from a patient or a fellow co-worker. I enjoy learning new skills, tools, and ways to treat my patients. I am very much looking forward to doing the same with your organization."
"I love my patients! Although my current organization is not providing me what I need, in terms of career growth, I am forever grateful for the opportunity to meet some of the most incredible people in the business."
An ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Therapist is a professional that studies a patient's behavior to implement an appropriate behavioral intervention. An ABA Therapist combines psychology, counseling, social work, education, and organizational management all into one job. Your patient populations includes children and adults with mental illness, developmental disabilities and learning disorders. You bring your expertise to schools, homes, institutions, group homes and hospitals. Your busy addressing behaviors such as language; social, academic, leisure and functional life skills; aggression, selfinjury, oppositional and stereotyped behaviors. Every patient is different and every day brings a new challenge.
Creativity, free thinking, patience and flexibility come second nature to you. As an ABA Therapist you have to be able to think outside of the box. Creativity is one of the tools in your toolbox to bring out the best in a child. You may conduct an ABA session at the park or beach, create a slideshow of your patients favorite photos or teach them to play an instrument. Your therapy will help teach, increase and maintain behaviors such as life, communication and social skills.
Your resume will reflect your education now you'll need to show the interviewer how you made an impact in your patients lives. To prepare for your interview, do some research to see who your target population is. Have a few short, relevant stories in your back pocket that show your talents as an ABA Therapist. Tell the interviewer about the various tools and programs you use with your patients and your ability to work along side other medical professionals.